Dog Health & More
Oh, baby! A Great Dane is truly a great dog breed — large and noble, commonly referred to as a gentle giant or as the "Apollo of dogs." Apollo is the Greek god of the sun, the brightest fixture in the sky. The Great Dane certainly holds stature in the dog world; but though he looks terribly imposing, in reality he's one of the best-natured dogs around. For all of his size, a Great Dane is a sweet, affectionate pet. He loves to play and is gentle with children.
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The Great Dane was originally bred to hunt wild boar, but he probably wouldn't be very good at it today. The ferociousness necessary to track down such a large, wily animal was eventually bred out of the Great Dane. He's now a gentle soul who generally gets along well with other dogs, animals, and humans.
However, his size and his power bark will scare the wits out of a burglar. Anyone who owns one of these dogs eventually understands that while you may be used to his awesome size, others usually need a little time to get there.
The Great Dane was developed from Mastiff-type dogs, but he's more refined than other descendents of this ancient breed. A Great Dane is sleek and elegant. He has an athletic, muscular body. His massive head — and massive is the right word — is long and narrow. He's got a long, graceful neck. His ears can be cropped or left natural. (Cropped ears are common in the U.S., but in other countries, ear-cropping is banned.)
His size can present problems. Eyeballing a dog who weighs what you do makes some folks nervous. His tail can knock over a lot of things, particularly in a small space. And given the opportunity, he's an impressive counter surfer. Luckily, he isn't rambunctious or highly energetic.
Size notwithstanding, a Great Dane is a sweet, affectionate companion. He loves to play and is gentle with children. He has a peaceful disposition, although he hasn't lost any of the courageousness that helped him hunt wild boar. Although he isn't particularly vocal (despite his killer power bark), he wouldn't hesitate to defend his family.
Even given his inherent gentleness, it's advisable to teach him good manners and attend obedience training classes when he's young. His sheer size alone could make him impossible to control when he's an adult, and — as with any dog — you never know when he might see something he just has to chase.
He's eager to please and highly people-oriented, demanding a great deal of attention from those around him. He tends to nudge people with that big old head of his when he wants to be petted. Sometimes you'll meet one with lapdog tendencies who see no reason not to hop onto the sofa and drape themselves on you.
Surprisingly, the Great Dane typically doesn't eat as much food as you'd think. And while he needs daily exercise, he doesn't need a huge yard to play in (although he certainly would enjoy one).
Because of his beauty and gentle nature, more and more people are discovering the Great Dane. He currently ranks as the 24th most popular dog breed, according to registrations with the American Kennel Club.
Just be aware that because of his size, he's got a relatively short life span of around eight years old. That means he takes up a huge space in your heart for a short amount of time.